Tour de France (st. 6)
Spaniard strong after yet another difficult day, with crosswinds and tough hills; ‘Bala’ up to 8th overall. Quintana and Landa attentive in finale, stay within GC group.
Following his 4th place in Quimper on Wednesday, Alejandro Valverde came again just short to a fifth career stage win in the Tour de France – in the 13th anniversary of his maiden success in the ‘Grande Boucle’. The Spaniard finished 3rd at the top of the Mûr-de-Bretagne, end of stage six -181km from Brest-, behind the two only riders anticipating the predictable uphill sprint: Dan Martin (UAD, 1st) and Pierre Latour (ALM, 2nd).
‘Bala’ managed himself well through another difficult stage, with some unexpected crosswinds created by Quick Step with over 100km left splitting the bunch into two, and forcing the Blues to push hard to bring Mikel Landa and Nairo Quintana back into position. The two Blues responded well to the work by Soler, Amador, Bennati, Erviti and Rojas, and at the last climb, they didn’t experience any more troubles to follow the GC group and finish with no time loss -Nairo in 13th place, Mikel in 16th-.
Valverde climbs onto 8th overall (+51″) as Greg Van Avermaet (BMC) remains in yellow, with Landa now 12th (+55″) and Quintana still 2’10” behind the yellow jersey. Two long, flat stages -no less than 231km scheduled on stage seven, Friday, from Fougères to Chartres- will lead the Movistar Team’s three GC references to the most feared stage in this year’s Tour, over the cobblestones towards Roubaix on Sunday, the last hurdle before the mountains.
Alejandro Valverde: “It was sad not to be able to win; another close call, but it is what it is. It was a difficult finish by many factors: you needed to be in perfect position, you needed some resistance after a very hard day, also with the crosswinds, the pace before the finish… a mixture of everything. The most important thing is that I’m still with good legs, getting through difficult stages without any time lost. Fourth yesterday, third today… it’s awful not to win and pay the team-mates back, but I’m doing things well so far. I was able to keep focus when the crosswinds formed, didn’t lose the front group and could content today’s finish again – we’re getting through these difficult stages and fulfilling our goals for the first week.”
Picture (c): BettiniPhoto.net
- 01 Dan Martin UAE Team Emirates 4h13'43"
- 02 Pierre Latour AG2R La Mondiale +1"
- 03 Alejandro Valverde Movistar Team +3"
- 13 Nairo Quintana Movistar Team "
- 16 Mikel Landa Movistar Team "
- 60 Marc Soler Movistar Team +2'00"
- 63 José Joaquín Rojas Movistar Team +2'17"
- 71 Andrey Amador Movistar Team "
- 118 Imanol Erviti Movistar Team +8'25"
- 139 Daniele Bennati Movistar Team +11'45"
- 01 Greg Van Avermaet BMC Racing Team 22h35'46"
- 02 Geraint Thomas Team Sky +3"
- 03 Tejay van Garderen BMC Racing Team +5"
- 08 Alejandro Valverde Movistar Team +51"
- 12 Mikel Landa Movistar Team +55"
- 27 Nairo Quintana Movistar Team +2'10"
- 71 José Joaquín Rojas Movistar Team +9'42"
- 82 Marc Soler Movistar Team +11'52"
- 96 Andrey Amador Movistar Team +14'11"
- 118 Imanol Erviti Movistar Team +21'44"
- 152 Daniele Bennati Movistar Team +34'34"